Throwback Brewery was our first foray into the wild world of warehouse breweries. I’ll be honest, approaching this place felt a lot like getting lost in the wrong part of town (if there is such a thing in New Hampshire). You kind of go through some shipping docks, around to the back of a warehouse, and then go through a quietly-marked door in a row of over-sized storage units. Being used to brewpubs and other well-marked businesses, it felt more than a little… dodgy.
But apparently warehouse/storage unit brewing is a thing in New Hampshire; this certainly would not be the last one we visited on this trip, and they were always immensely popular.
Throwback Brewing is really a name for the vision of co-founders Annette Lee and Nicole Carrier: to remember a time when everything was locally-sourced and made with passion. Beer is just their manifestation of this vision. The goal is to eventually source 100% of their ingredients from a less-than-200-square-mile radius from their home. Currently, they are about 70% there, keeping in mind the agricultural limitations of life in New England. But, much like winegrowers in harsh environments the world over, they embrace the concept of Terroir, from the earth, all of the climatic, geographic, and geologic features that make tastes of wine, beer, tea, liquor, fruits and vegetables unique and distinctive. They want their beer to taste like it came from New Hampshire, to be a beer that you could never mistake as a beer from Oregon or California or North Carolina.
And boy, are they doing a good job.
They seem to favor darker beers, browns and stouts and porters, which works well for me. They offer tastings only for $1 each, but you can fill growlers, as well. I picked up four samples: Salted Caramel Milk Stout, Apple Betty Porter, Campfire Smoked Porter, and the Maple-Kissed Wheat Porter. The Apple Betty was the most drinkable, smooth and not too rich, something I could sit down and drink for a while. The Campfire definitely tasted like a campfire, or rather, that smoky flavor marshmallows pick up when you burn them over a fire; I really enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I could drink a whole pint of it. The Salted Caramel Milk Stout was my favorite, but it was rich and sweet, like a dessert beer. Probably about four ounces is all I would want to drink at any one time. Finally, the Maple-Kissed Wheat Porter was aptly named but too sweet for my taste; but they were right, it would taste delicious as a beer float with some vanilla bean ice cream.
Throwback also embodies the definition of sustainable. From the recycled brewing equipment, salvaged from Maine and Massachusetts, to reusing water whenever possible to sending spent grain to local farmers for livestock feed, the brewers embrace a simpler lifestyle that embraces quality over quantity without sacrificing the good life.
If they aren’t swamped, they are happy to show people around the brewery, but there are no specified tour times. It’s all very casual and friendly. We got there right as they opened, so for a time, we were the only one’s there. But as soon as people started getting off of work, the tasting room filled to the brim. I can only assume they were there to see the puppy. All breweries should have puppies!
What: Beers that are about as local as you can get in the short-seasoned New Hampshire. Tastings are $1 each, and you take a plastic gold coin for every sample and pay at the end.
Where: 121 Lafayette Road, North Hampton, Second warehouse building, Unit #3. Open Thursdays and Fridays, 4-7, and Saturdays 1-4.
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